Monday, January 16, 2012

2. Ephesians 4

(This is the ninth in a series of ten posts counting down my ten favorite chapters in the New Testament. My friend David is also counting down his ten favorite chapters in the New Testament. You can find the corresponding post on his blog by clicking here.)

The everyday posting schedule was starting to wear me down a little bit, so I took a breather yesterday. Today, I'm back at it with Ephesians 4. Coincidentally (or perhaps not), David also chose Ephesians 4 as his #2 chapter. We've already seen from Ephesians 2 and 1 Peter 2 that God's desire is to build the church. But how does this building occur? Ephesians 4 gives us a glimpse at the answer, starting with verse 3:
"Being diligent to keep the oneness of the Spirit in the uniting bond of peace."
The key word here is keep. As members of the Body, we need not strive after oneness, because the oneness is in the Spirit, and we have the Spirit. Thus, we already have the oneness! Though outwardly, the church may appear to be divided, the true condition of the church, in God's view, is just oneness. Verses 4-6 go on to name seven items of the oneness:
  1. One Body (v. 4)
  2. One Spirit (v. 4)
  3. One hope of your calling (v. 4): the hope of glory in Colossians 1:27
  4. One Lord (v. 5)
  5. One faith (v. 5)
  6. One baptism (v. 5)
  7. One God and Father of all (v. 6)
Now, Romans 12:4-5 confirms that the Body is one, but also has many members. Back in Ephesians 2, we find in verse 7-11 that the different members give the Body variety. Grace is given to each member (v. 7), but some of the members are given special gifts as apostles, prophets, evangelists, and shepherds and teachers. Of course, we thank the Lord for the gifts, but these gifts actually do not build up the Body directly. Rather, the gifts perfect the saints, who build up the Body. And we're all in this together. One part of the Body cannot grow without other parts of the Body. Verse 13 says:
"Until we all arrive at the oneness of the faith and of the knowledge of a full-grown man, at the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ."
The growth of all the Body unto maturity depends on all the members functioning. Several gifted members cannot possibly cause the the entire Body to grow to the stature of the fullness of Christ. That leads us to verses 15-16, which were addressed in a previous post:
"...the Head, Christ, out from whom all the Body, being joined together and being knit together through every joint of the rich supply and through the operation in the measure of each one part, causes the growth of the Body unto the building up of itself in love."
Even though Christ promised to build His church (Matthew 16:18), even though the Body grows out from Christ, and even though Christ gave gifts to men, the proper growth of the Body on the function of EVERY member. That's why 1 Corinthians 14:26 says that whenever you come together, each one has.

It doesn't matter if you were saved only yesterday. Every member has a function in the Body of Christ. We all can shepherd others, we all can nourish others, we all can feed others, we all can teach others, we all can prophesy, we all can evangelize, and we all can build up the church.


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